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COVID Care Outreach Programme for South Gujarat
Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care responded immediately to the recent COVID crisis in rural South Gujarat by setting up a dedicated, fully-equipped COVID treatment facility. The need now was to spread awareness to the masses.

A Grim Situation

Along with a very high number of cases, a deeper problem was identified – in the tribal areas of South Gujarat, there is a burden of fear, myths, and misinformation. Upon testing positive, villagers fear that their children won’t get marriage proposals or that they will lose income due to quarantine. Several believe in myths such as vaccination causes infertility, death etc. The only sustainable strategy of tackling these issues was addressing its root cause – correcting these beliefs regarding COVID.

Devising a Holistic Strategy

The design of the outreach programme relied on three pillars:
  1. Convergence with other NGOs such as Atul Foundation, Bhansali Trust, ARCH Foundation etc. for understanding of best practices.
  2. Working closely with local governmental authorities who are directly responsible for managing the rural healthcare infrastructure.
  3. Performing door-to-door surveys and conducting awareness drives through the Shrimad Rajchandra COVID and Vaccination Awareness Vans.
The vans will cover a population of 4.5 lakh residing across the 238 villages in the Dharampur and Kaprada talukas. The teams will conduct rapid antigen tests for early COVID detection and spread awareness about COVID symptoms as well as the benefits of vaccination.

The Implementation Phase

The team identified that engagement at all levels of the public rural health infrastructure would be the best way to create an impact with the outreach programme.
  1. Engagement with the District Health Officer (DHO) and Taluka Health Officer (THO):
    • Meetings with the DHO and sub-DHO were held to guide the direction of the programme.
    • A dialogue with the THO, who is responsible for managing the 9 Primary Health Centres (PHC) serving 122 villages of the Dharampur taluka, was established to understand how support could be extended to these PHCs.
  2. After deliberation with the Community Health Officer (CHO), the THO and 9 PHC Medical Officers, a set of actions for the collaborative working between Shrimad Rajchandra Hospital COVID Care Centre and the PHCs was formed:
    • All PHCs will display banners/videos of the Centre to create awareness.
    • Medical Officers will share communication regarding patient testimonials etc. to key influencers such as the village sarpanch.
    • Medical Officers will recommend patients to get admitted to the dedicated COVID facility.
    • Regular visits will be made to the PHCs and sub-centres to understand the case load and to ensure that proper awareness is being given to patients.
  3. Executing last-mile, door-to-door awareness through Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers
    • ASHA workers are community health workers instituted under the National Rural Health Mission, serving as an interface between the community and the public health system. To further equip them, the team organised a training session for over 500 workers.
    • During the training, participants were briefed about the Centre and how its facilities are free of cost for patients. They were informed to encourage those displaying symptoms to get tested and opt for early treatment to avoid complications.
    • Great focus was placed on ensuring the safety of the ASHA workers. To that effect, they were provided with gloves, masks, face shield and sanitisers. Their kit also included oximeter, thermal gun and a visually rich presentation to aid them in their counselling.
  4. The outreach programme represents a large-scale, sustainable model that can truly bring about social and behavioural change. By collaborating with the public healthcare system, Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care is establishing a unique public-private model that is scalable and replicable, and maximises treatment outcomes for rural populations.

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